By Jasmine Irving
Recently my pen has been scrawling out pages and pages of ramblings, which make my 20 year old self – fresh out of teenage hood – feel oh so wise. But I won’t bore you with that. Let’s talk about hairy armpits. I’m sure it’s all been heard before, the whole “I’m a feminist and refuse to adapt my body in any way, shape or form to conform to capitalist patriarchal ideals” and as much as it fits me in a neat little box of “Feminist – the hairy type” that’s pretty much exactly why razors aren’t in my bathroom cupboard.
Another thing is I just can’t be bothered. There are more important things to do, like sleeping, or eating or clambering over cliffs. This is all significantly more interesting than staring at my own face in the mirror or shaving legs. At the same time as I think and feel all this, it’s completely justified and fine to be the person who does enjoy doing these things to their appearance – what often discourages people from feminism and other groups is that it’s easy to sound like your attacking everyone who chooses to do what you choose not to do. It’s the ideologies behind the act that I have a problem with and unfortunately each day it becomes more and more apparent that these cannot be escaped. You can try and try and TRY to live outside of cultural ideology but in one way or another we’re always going to be somewhat stuck within it. After all we are born into it, before we even escape the womb there’s a whole bunch of pre conceived ideas about our identity. So, every small bit of resistance along the way counts.
At a festival in summer my pits got quite a reaction from a typical lad’s lad who found it utterly shocking and expressed his disgust. For one it was a festival so I was busy packing sparkly items of clothing, face paint and glitter rather than razors and secondly just because women are portrayed as being plastic and hairless in every film, TV programme, magazine etc, does not mean we don’t actually have hair! And what’s more I find it kind of disgusting that in porn women are completely bare down there, as if they never went through puberty, do men really want their women to look like a child?! Because that’s pretty messed up. Surely we should be proud of what separates us from childhood to becoming a woman. Whatever anyone decides to do is fine, the point is your body is your own and you can do what you want with it –however I’d like to think people are acting out of their own free will and not just taking on social norms because anything else is portrayed as wrong. I won’t even go into the types of slogans used in hair removal adverts, because this piece would never end; they’ve been driving me barking mad for as long as I can remember!
I guess the lines between cultural ideologies and autonomy will always be blurred, but a bit of hair on a woman really shouldn’t cause all the fuss that it does. It runs deeper than this though, the point is, that a hairless, idealistic form of the female body is a construction created as an image of female sexuality (the painted, tweaked version,) which is sold as a commodity, used to make money. Such an extensive, pervasive part of society cannot be ignored.
The oppression and objectification of women in the media undoubtedly comes from a capitalist source where patriarchy is an ideology which emerges from class relations and exploitations. Of course, women have been oppressed in pre capitalist societies too but capitalism, as a system itself, benefits from the objectification of women where a mass and highly profitable market is opened up. We need to stand up and refuse to be viewed as a product, an object, whatever you want to call it, and resist the combined forces of capitalism and patriarchy. There’s so many creative was that individuals and groups are doing this, inspiring others to follow in the footsteps of a unified resistance. Where there’s a will there’s a way.